Trump threatens funding cut if UC Berkeley 'does not allow free speech'

President Trump early Thursday threatened to cut federal funding to the University of California, Berkeley after violent protests broke out on its campus Wednesday in response to a planned appearance by a far-right commentator.

"If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?" the president tweeted Thursday morning.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Thursday released a statement calling the president's apparent threat an "abuse of power."

“President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE cannot bully our university into silence. Simply put, President Trump’s empty threat to cut funding from UC Berkeley is an abuse of power," she said in the statement.

"As a senior member of the education funding subcommittee, I will continue to stand up to President Trump’s overreach and defend the rights of our students and faculty.”

A scheduled appearance by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled Wednesday night, about two hours before the Breitbart editor was scheduled to speak.

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The university said in a statement the violence was "instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest," according to NPR.

"This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers," U.C. Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet told The Associated Press.

More than 1,500 people had showed up to protest Yiannopoulos's appearance on campus.

At least six people were injured, according to CNN.

Yiannopoulos called what happened "an expression of political violence," according to CNN.

"I'm just stunned that hundreds of people ... were so threatened by the idea that a conservative speaker might be persuasive, interesting, funny and might take some people with him, they have to shut it down at all costs," he said in a Facebook Live video. 
 
Updated 11:37 p.m